The Joy of Journaling: Tracy O’Meara Smith
As part of her journaling practice, Tracy uses a technique called automatic writing, sometimes referred to as stream of consciousness writing. For Tracy, this is “where you just allow yourself to write whatever comes up in your heart and mind, with no filter or editing”. Many people who used this technique (including author Elizabeth Gilbert) believe that it enhances their creativity by freeing their mind of all their thoughts rattling around – it’s like meditation through writing. In Tracy’s experience, “It can be liberating. Through this process, I find the answers I seek. You learn to trust yourself deeply”. Tracy shares some of the other wonderful benefits journaling brings her below:
1. Why do you keep a journal? What do you think are the main advantages of journaling?
Journaling has always been a way for me to connect and channel any excess energy and gives my thoughts and ideas a place to freely express. Journaling helps me to validate what I’m feeling.
Especially when I first started, I noticed within the first week I became less distracted and not that inclined to look outside of myself for validation.
I find my self-confidence increases and I have this underlying feeling of calm throughout my day. I move from feeling tired, cranky, and stressed to feelings of inspiration or self-acceptance
I think this is one of the main advantages of journaling, you create the space to truly listen and acknowledge yourself in a deep way. I recommend this process to all of my clients.
Especially in times of confusion or to let off steam, it’s a way to take personal responsibility. I find with the work I do, there is nowhere else to channel my excess thoughts other than in my journal. It helps to pivot, shift and change seamlessly. The words gliding or being scribbled on-page, the words are out, and energy or emotional charge released. It is super healthy for the soul
It is the greatest self-care tool. I think everyone should do it. It builds your sense of self and gifts clarity of what you value and love in life.
2. How long have you kept a journal for and why did you start?
I have been journaling for over 20 years.
I go through phases where I will journal every day – to once a week.
Lately, I have made it a habit to combine journaling and meditation daily and have had some remarkable results in terms of feeling calm and having greater trust in life and in the world around me.
I started journaling as a way to channel my excess negative emotions as a form of self-care for my mental health.
Sometimes my thoughts can get the better of me and once I started journaling they had less control over my mood or over my decision making process. It grounds me in times of life when I have to make important decisions and I find I learn a lot about myself.
3. How often do you write in your journal – have you established a regular habit, or do you just write when you need to? How much do you write?
I write daily and sometimes weekly – it changes I guess, depending on everyday responsibilities or even the mood.
I’m finding the daily practice deeply rewarding and finding that negative emotions move on quickly and I am less likely to act in a mood or overthink. Sometimes I will write for 5 mins, sometimes I will write for 20, sometimes an hour.
Each day is different.
Sometimes I will use a technique called automatic writing – where you just allow yourself to write whatever comes up in your heart and mind, with no filter or editing. It can be liberating. Through this process, I find the answers I seek. You learn to trust yourself deeply.
4. What sort of journal do you write in? Do you write by hand in a notebook or electronically on your computer or another device?
I have two journals – one is a sketch pad with no lines. And the other a simple exercise book.
I find pages with no lines allow me to be openly creative and I love the texture of the paper.
If I’m writing to free my mind and heart – I will use an exercise book and write pages and pages of how I am thinking and feeling, to find a resolution or simply to express. Journaling is fabulous for this and I love the freedom of expression it gives me.
Writing pen to paper seems to deepen my inner connection. I feel the energy of the words that come through and it moves from my heart to my pen – it can feel like a full body experience and when raw emotion is involved, beautiful self connection is created. Sometimes these releases are necessary and if you are stressed, confused, scared or even empowered – wisdom arises in all ways when you journal in this way.
5. Do you have any challenges journaling, e.g. not writing as consistently as you’d like, not having time to write, not knowing what to write, finding the right journal, etc.
I haven’t had any challenges journaling other than finding the time.
Some days are busier than others, however, I have found though, the more I make this a priority the easier it is to make time for self-reflection and expression. It becomes a part of your routine. And then a must-do.
It has supported me through some very challenging times and gifted me clarity and a sounding board to express myself to with no judgment. Some journal entries have become blogs for my business as sometimes insight arises, and many can benefit from this.
Resistance is usually an indication that I should definitely make time to write, something is looking to be expressed and made conscious.
There is nothing better than finding your own voice and this in itself is priceless.
Tracy O’Meara Smith is a Holistic Therapist, using a unique blend of flower essence and Bowen therapy, bringing clarity, comfort, capacity, and calm to women who find themselves lost through times of crisis, pain, and confusion. Learn more at www.silverdale.com.au.